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Soaring success
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 10 - 06 - 2010

After 11 years of Chinese-Egyptian cooperation, the 120th aircraft rolls off the production line, reports Amirah Ibrahim
The Egyptian Air Force took delivery of its 120th aircraft to roll off the production line in Helwan, the result of a remarkable success story involving the Arab Organisation for Industries (AOI), the Chinese aviation company AVIC and the Egyptian Air Force.
The delivery ceremony, at which Air Force Chief of Staff Major-General Lotfi Mustafa took delivery of the Sino- Egyptian K-8E from AOI Chairman Lieutenant General Hamdi Waheba, was held at the AOI aircraft factory in Helwan and attended by China's ambassador to Egypt, Wu Chunhua, and AVIC Chairman Lin Zuoming.
"The success of the K-8E local manufacturing programme is a result of the close cooperation, creative efforts, persistence and faithful work of the three participants, the Air Force, the aircraft factory, and AVIC," said Waheba.
The K-8E programme began in 1999, after the plane was chosen as the Egyptian Air Force's main training aircraft, replacing the Czech L-29. The programme's initial target was 80 aircraft. Subsequently, 40 more aircraft were ordered.
"The K-8E programme aimed for the local manufacture of the aircraft, including 94 per cent of the airframe. It also established the Egyptian Air Force's first aviation research centre. The whole programme is a model of success for Sino- Egyptian cooperation in the aviation industry, that we hope will extend to other fields," added Waheba.
The K-8E is the main training craft of the Air Force Academy. It is also used by the Silver Stars, the Air Force Acrobatic team. It is designed to implement 14,000 flying hours or to serve for 25 years. It can be armed with a wide variety of ordnance, and is highly regarded as a fighter aircraft.
The Sino-Egyptian cooperation also includes the setting up of an overhaul and repair centre for the K-8E engine, intended to serve clients who use the same air craft across Africa and the Arab region.
"It is better to teach the skills of fishing rather than to provide a fish," said Zuoming. "The service line provides the foundation for lifetime support of the K-8E fleet."

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